Monday, October 2, 2023

Inflation, product recall causing U.S. dramatic baby formula shortage

According to local media reports, almost 40 per cent of common baby formula brands were sold out nationwide during the week starting April 24.

• May 18, 2022
Shelves of baby formula at a store in Virginia Credit Xinhua Liu Jie
Baby formula shortages at a store in Virginia used to illustrate the story [Credit Xinhua/Liu Jie]

The U. S. is facing a severe nationwide shortage of baby formula caused by rampant inflation to a massive recall of products possibly contaminated by the rare but lethal bacterium Cronobacter sakazakii.

According to local media reports, almost 40 per cent of common baby formula brands were sold out nationwide during the week starting April 24.

In the U. S., powdered milk is an essential part of the diet of 75 per cent of babies over the age of six months. This means the shortage could well leave a significant mark on children’s future development.

The crisis has intensified over the past year due to global factors, said the report.

It said the 2021 coronavirus lockdown snarled the global supply chains, affecting baby powder productions. Milk powder supplies had fallen by just 10 per cent during that period and by January 2022, supplies had dropped 20 per cent, it added.

However, the re-emerging inflation also exacerbated the baby powder shortage.

Some economists had warned that the U.S. administration pumping in extra money beyond its economy’s spare capacity would fuel inflation, with too much money chasing too few goods.

Also, when baby formula prices are expected to rise, families tend to stock up massively, since it’s hard to find substitutes, which caught manufacturers off-guard.

According to the report, a recent food safety scandal has made the crisis even more acute, referring to the mass recall of Abbott Nutrition products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers to avoid some of their baby formulas following the discovery of a possible link between Abbott formulas and bacterial infections in four babies.

The Abbott recall was especially damaging because the company provides free formula across America to people who struggle to pay. 


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